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Marie Nixon, Theatre Director at Sunderland Empire with the Washington Mind team.

Sunderland Empire is thrilled to announce that over £11,800 has been raised over the past year for their 2023 nominated charity Washington Mind thanks to the help of generous patrons and staff. 

The mental health charity was nominated by the theatre’s staff as a subject close to many of their hearts post lockdown. Washington Mind was selected for their commitment to supporting the local people of Wearside, promoting recovery, and improving mental health and wellbeing services.

Washington Mind’s vision is to create a society that understands and is active in improving mental health for all ages. The charity has provided Sunderland Empire’s staff with invaluable training and resources with the aim of breaking down the stigma of talking about mental health.   

The theatre’s charity panel, which launched back in 2022, organised a range of exciting fundraising events including a staff summer sports day, an intimate performance with soprano Lesley Garrett for patrons ahead of a performance of musical My Fair Lady, sponsored 10k walks, coffee mornings, a boxing day dip, as well as bucket collections at performances throughout the year and panto season. Three staff members also participated in the Great North Run for the charity. All events and donations from patrons at shows contributed to the final figure.

The charity’s vital services include therapeutic support for 11+, mental health and wellbeing activities and classes, social support, volunteering and training opportunities, and a range of information resources including the website.

Jacqui Reeves, CEO at Washington Mind said: “We cannot thank the team at the Empire enough for their fantastic support for Washington Mind over the last year. We were all thrilled when we were chosen as charity of the year, but could not have foreseen building such a pro-active, productive partnership. Our staff and service users have really enjoyed being involved in the fundraising activities and to raise such a phenomenal amount of money is truly overwhelming. The funding will help us to fulfill our mission, continuing to work with our community to improve mental health and wellbeing. Accessing services and support when it is needed most is crucial to making a full recovery and this funding will directly help local people. We wish the Empire all of the very best with their future fundraising endeavours and applaud them for their community spirit, we feel really privileged to have been a part of that".

Vicki Medhurst, Theatre Manager at Sunderland Empire said: “It has been such a pleasure collaborating and connecting with Washington Mind over the past year. The resources and training that they have provided have been, and continue to be, truly invaluable. It’s been a joy to see our staff come together for such a wonderful cause, and to see the donations from our generous patrons go directly back into our local community, keeping these wonderful services active. We thank everyone who has attended any of our fundraising events or who have kindly donated to this wonderful cause over the past 12 months.”

Sunderland Empire’s nominated charity for 2024 is to be announced soon.

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